At the time of writing this piece I have not lost my job. The information here is pretty much my plan of action for if me or my partner does lose our primary source of income.
If you’ve lost your job because of the effects of COVID-19 on your employer or industry, you’re likely quite worried – and understandably so. While you probably feel powerless right now, there are some things you can do now to relieve some of the uncertainty.
1. Speak to your bank
If you’ve lost your job, speak to your bank about available assistance. You might spend a bit of time on hold, but they may be able to advise you of measures in place to support you.
If you’ve got a mortgage, credit card or loan, you might be able to access payment/interest freezes, relieving some immediate pressure in terms of your outgoings.
2. Speak to your landlord
If you rent, assistance may already be in place for your landlord to accomodate a temporary payment freeze. Every landlord is different – some are more capable of offering assistance than others, so by speaking to them (or your property manager) directly, you might be able to come to an agreement between you.
Your landlord may also be suffering financial hardship as a result of the virus (particularly younger property owners) if they too have lost their jobs and are trying to pay two mortgages. By opening the communication, you might be able to establish something that works for both parties.
3. Speak to friends/family
If you have support from friends and family, chat to them about how they can help. They may be in a position to offer financial support by helping you pay rent or loaning you some cash until you find another job.
4. Assess what you’ve got
If you have savings and/or annual leave/redundancy pay being paid out, assess how long that’ll pay your essential living costs. This helps you understand how quickly you need to act, and how selective you can be with income/employment opportunities.
5. Audit your payments
Go through all regular payments and subscriptions, and cut out as much as you can. Focus on reducing your cost of living as much as possible, to reduce the pressure on any money you do have. You’ll probably be entitled to cancel more things, too, if you call the company and explain that you’ve lost your job. Things like gyms, streaming subscriptions, courses and memberships can all reduce your regular outgoings. If you want to keep streaming services, ask a friend if you can use their Netflix login, or set up a multi-user membership to reduce the cost.
Look for immediate income
The next step is to look for immediate income. Call your government’s benefit provider to find out which support payments you may be eligible for. Some governments are extending the eligibility and benefit amounts to support you through this time.
In Australia, the Job Seeker Payment (formally Newstart) has been doubled, and you may be able to access $10,000 of your superannuation if you’re a freelancer that operates as a sole trader. In the UK, you may be entitled to get 80% of your monthly income paid by the government, too.
Then, depending on how much of a buffer you have from any savings or family support, start looking for employment. If you need to start earning ASAP, look out for industries that need extra staff to get through the pandemic. Supermarkets are hiring thousands of extra workers due to the increased demand and requirements for stacking and cleaning. Warehouses are also looking for extra packers, and hundreds of businesses are pivoting to offer delivery services – which means extra support is required to get deliveries completed. UberEats, Deliveroo, Menulog and JustEat drivers are also in high demand, as people turn to ordering takeaways rather than eating out.
If you’re in Australia, here are 7 places you might be able to score some hours.
It’s also worth keeping your eyes out (or directly asking) for opportunities to earn money supporting those who are still working. With school holidays (and some school closures) coming up, families may need extra support with childcare, household tasks or even business admin.
Remember, of course, to consider the safety of yourself and the people you’re coming into contact with if undertaking these sorts of tasks.
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